Seven prospects involved in blockbuster
A look at the Minor Leaguers in Halladay, Lee deal
Leading up to the official announcement of the four-team deal that will see Roy Halladay go to Philadelphia and Cliff Lee go to Seattle, just about every top prospect from the Mariners and Phillies was involved.
The Phillies have dealt their top pitching prospect, one of their better position prospects and their top catching prospect to the Jays, but have received the Mariners' top pitching prospects. The Jays, in turn, took the Phillies outfielder and flipped him to the A's in return for one of the better pure bats in their system, a guy who was just traded to Oakland last July.
Confused? Don't worry, here's a clearer picture on the seven Minor League prospects involved in this deal.
From Mariners to Phillies:
Phillippe Aumont, RHP
Taken in the first round of the 2007 Draft (No. 11 overall), the 20-year-old Aumont still had a tremendous amount of upside. The 6-foot-7 Canadian has a plus fastball he can throw in the mid-90s and complements it with an above-average breaking ball, a slider he throws in the low-80s that can be a plus pitch as well at times. He's shown a feel for a changeup at times over the past couple of years, but it's far from a perfected pitch.
Playing for travel teams in Canada as a high schooler, Aumont was limited somewhat in the amount of work he could get in. That's continued to an extent as a professional. He signed late in 2007, so he wasn't able to make his debut until the 2008 season. He only saw 55 2/3 innings of work during that debut as the Mariners were extremely cautious with their first-rounder and shut him down for two months when he had a sore elbow. Still, he was a Midwest League All-Star and had a 2.75 ERA and .224 batting average against.
The Mariners, partially because of durability concerns and partially because his two-pitch power mix seemed perfect for the role, turned Aumont into a full-time reliever in 2009. After pitching very well for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic, he saved 12 games and had a .195 batting average against while pitching in a very hitter-friendly High Desert park in the California League. That led to a promotion to Double-A. He was a bit more hittable there, though he still finished the season with 16 combined saves and 59 strikeouts in 51 innings. He did miss time with a broken left hand when he punched a wall following a blown save. He made up some time in the Arizona Fall League, where he gave up 19 hits and eight walks in 12 innings, but also struck out 18.
Tyson Gillies, OF
Anyone who watched the Futures Game knows what Gillies is about: speed, speed and speed. The Canadian center fielder is a plus, plus in scouting parlance and on the scouting scale, he'd be at least a 70 (80 is the best). He stole 44 bases in 2009 while also hitting .341 for High Desert to finish third in the Class A Advanced California League. He was second with his .430 on-base percentage, drawing 60 walks along the way. His 14 triples (second in the league) are a testament not only to his speed, but also to his makeup. He breaks out of the box thinking three every at-bat. He can play all three outfield spots and has a very good arm.
The 25th-rounder out of the 2006 Draft is a true inspiration. Gillies is hard of hearing, though he speaks clearly and uses hearing aids in both ears. Sometimes, he takes them out when he is playing. He does not shy away from being a role model for others.
J.C. Ramirez, RHP
If you like raw arm strength, Ramirez might be your guy. The 21-year-old was signed by the Mariners out of Nicaragua back in the summer of 2005 and he'd been making his way slowly up Seattle's ladder. In 2008, he pitched for Low Class A Wisconsin. This past year, it was up to High Desert, where the friendly confines of his home ballpark clearly didn't help him. Ramirez had a 6.78 ERA in 17 outings in High Desert. That number dropped to 3.09 in his 11 road starts.
Ramirez still has some projection and upside to him at 6-foot-3. He's already got a pretty good fastball he can crank as high as 97 mph to go along with a very good hard slider. His changeup lags behind, never surprising for a young pitcher, and it's possible he could be a dynamo short reliever when all is said and done.
From the Phillies to the Blue Jays
Kyle Drabek, RHP
The "untouchable" back in July when the Phils talked to the Jays about Halladay, he was now suddenly available and perhaps that was the key to the deal. The 2006 first-rounder (18th overall) missed almost all of the 2008 season following Tommy John surgery, but looked very much like the guy who was the top high school arm in the '06 Draft class during the 2009 season.
The son of former big league hurler Doug, Drabek split time between the Florida State and Double-A Eastern Leagues at age 21. Combined, the right-hander went 12-3 with a 3.19 ERA, a .239 batting average against and 150 strikeouts over 158 innings. He was electrifying during his Futures Game performance, an exclamation point to the statement that he was back 100 percent as one of the better pitching prospects in the game.
Drabek has a fastball he runs up regularly to 92-93 mph, but his best pitch is one of the better power curveballs in the Minors. It's a breaking ball he commands with precision. His changeup still needs some work, but his competitive nature and athleticism should allow him to maximize his stuff. He's likely to need some time in Triple-A to start the year, but he could very well see some time in Toronto's rotation at some point in 2010.
Michael Taylor, OF
Of the two top outfielders in the Phillies system, Domonic Brown had the more dynamic upside, but Taylor was more polished and advanced. Taken in the fifth round out of Stanford in the 2007 Draft, there were initially some concerns about his plate discipline and pitch recognition when he was coming out of college.
He's answered many of those questions by hitting .312/.383/.512 over the course of his Minor League career. He split time between Double-A and Triple-A in 2009 and finished with a .320 average to go along with a .395 on-base percentage, .549 slugging percentage, 20 homers and 84 RBIs over 116 games. He also stole 21 bases, a testament to his baserunning skills as much as his decent speed. Defensively, he's got a good arm and should be fine as a corner outfielder in the big leagues. And he's not too far away. Even if he starts the season back in Triple-A, he's a pretty good bet to see his first big league action in 2010.
Travis D'Arnaud, C
A supplemental first-round pick in the 2007 Draft out of high school, D'Arnaud receives raves for his work behind the plate and showed some signs of life with the bat during his first taste of full-season ball in 2009. He hit .255 for Class A Lakewood in the South Atlantic League, but he upped that to .302 in the second half. He also racked up 38 doubles and 13 homers, showing hints of fulfilling some of his power potential.
When all is said and done, though, D'Arnaud won't have to hit a ton to make it to the big leagues. He works hard on his defense, handles a staff very well and has all the tools to be an above-average backstop, including excellent arm strength. How much he hits might determine whether he's a very valuable backup or a really good everyday catcher down the road in the big leagues.
From the A's to the Blue Jays
(For Michael Taylor)
Brett Wallace, 3B
Wallace is changing organizations for the second time in less than six months, amazing considering he just finished up his first full season after going in the first round of the 2008 Draft. He was the key prospect the Cardinals sent to Oakland in the Matt Holliday deal. The Futures Gamer began the year in Double-A, quickly got promoted to Triple-A and hit pretty much every where he was. He finished the season with a .293/.367/.455 line, and he actually was at his best with Sacramento following the trade (.302/.365/.505).
Coming out of ASU, the hope was that Wallace's bat would carry him quickly to the big leagues and that's proven to be the case. He hit 20 homers in 2009 and there's more power there. The offensive side of the game is ready for a shot at the big leagues. The main question surrounding Wallace is where his home will be defensively. He played third all year, though the A's worked him in at first base a few times after the trade. Heading into the Draft, few felt he'd be able to stay at the hot corner, but Wallace has worked hard on his defense and was intent on proving people wrong. Currently, the Jays have Edwin Encarnacion at third and Lyle Overbay at first, so something would have to give in order for Wallace to get a shot at either corner.